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Troubleshooting and Repairing Pool Pumps

by Andrew Scherer of

SPECIAL NOTE:  Repairing a pool pump is well within the ability of the average home handyman, and can save you loads of money!  This article is for general reference only, since there are variations in pump design.  I suggest you attempt to get a manual (including an exploded parts view) for your pump brand and model (if you didn't get one when your purchased the pump) before starting any repair.  This will help guide you through the troubleshooting and repair process, plus help you in reassembly if you have "extra parts" when you finish!  Enjoy!!  NH

So your pools pump has either stopped working or is malfunctioning in some way? It may be making some type of strange noise or just isn't putting out enough water. Before you run for your tool kit, there is a small checklist that you'll want to go through, just to make sure it is the pump that's on the blink.

Did You Trace and Check Your Power Source Completely?

Begin by tracing out your power supply, beginning at the breaker box. Flip the switch off and back on to make sure it's on. Are you sure you're flipping the right breaker switch? If it's on a box that's separate from your home, check the main switch as well.

Your next step is to follow your power source all the way up to the pump checking each inch to make sure that there isn't a break in it, if it's exposed. If it's an extension cord, then disconnect it from the pump and give it a test with some other type of electrical appliance.

Check the pool water level, the intakes for clogs and, finally, the pump itself...

Now assuming that you have completely checked your power source from front to back and all is well, then of course your next step would be to check the pool. Your test there is to make sure that the water is high enough to reach the water intake. If that's not the problem then check to see that the filter or pump screen isn't clogged. Is the water intake clogged?

Now if you've exhausted all your alternatives and nothing else seems to be the problem then you now have every reason to suspect and focus on your pool pump. That is unless it has a timer. In which case that may be the source of your problems. Of course if you have no timer then move on to your pump.

The first thing you need to do is to give your pump a good visual inspection. If water has been dripping on it for an extended period this my be your problem and will also be readily evident if a hole has been corroded through. Another thing to check for is to see if rodents have perhaps nested in its general vicinity and piled up debris, there by blocking air from getting to it.

Make Sure You Turn Off the Power at the Breaker Box Before Working on the Pump!

You next step is to shut off all power and disconnect the pump (and its motor) from what aver it is attached to. This would include the filter and any plumbing that's connected to it. After this is done, bring the pump onto a workbench for a more thorough examination.

Do yourself a favor and get out some sandwich bags to keep any nuts, washers, bolts, etc. in as you take them off. They're just so easy to lose and even missing one can present a huge problem when it comes time to put the whole thing back together when you're through.

Move slowly and meticulously. If you have any rusted bolts or screws, brush them with a wire brush and give them a squirt of WD40, Liquid Wrench or other chemical bolt loosener.

Your pump is comprised of two halves. One half will be the motor and the other half will be what is commonly referred to as the “wet half”... the mechanism that actually moves the water comprised of the impeller (spinning pump) and its casing.

Remove the bolts that hold these two halves together and set each half on the table in front of you.  Pick up the motor and attempt to spin its shaft by hand. You should be able to do so with your fingers quite freely. If it drags and creates a grinding noise, then your pump is definitely in need of rebuilding.

What you're going to find is that the impeller is connected to the motor shaft and behind that is the sealer plate. Remove the impeller by rotating it counter-clockwise, while you secure the motor shaft with a pair of vice grips. Next remove the screws in the sealer plate. Remove that and pull the old pump spring seal off the shaft.

The fact is that it's most likely cheaper to simply buy a new motor then to have yours rebuilt. However; just to make sure, you may want to call your local pool supply outlet just to check their prices on rebuilding pumps. Even so, if it's just a little more, you may want to opt out for brand new pump.

Ok, so your next step is to examine the wet side of the pool pump. If it turned out that there were no problems with your motor then somewhere in this end of the mechanism is where you'll find your problem. Start by taking a good look at it in its entirety and see if any obvious damage jumps out at you.

Look Carefully for Hidden Cracks or Flaws in Gaskets

Quite often the problem turns out to be a defective gasket that's resulting in the pump losing its prime. You see a damaged or corroded gasket means that the pump will suck in air when it should be sucking water, so check out all the gaskets very carefully. Check for cracks and corrosion

Another area to check is any plugs that are in your pump. If the plug has a tapered fit, then it will require Teflon tape for a complete seal and if it's a straight plug, it will use a rubber washer. Check to see that the plugs are secure and sealed in this way.

Assuming that you have located and remedied your problem, your next step is to put the pump back together again. The secret is to work slowly and never to force anything that's giving you difficulty. Also make sure that no oil comes in contact with any of the gaskets.

Written by Andrew Scherer. If you're looking to lessen the chance that you'll need to perform some kind of pool pump repair, consider looking at an automatic pool cleaner to keep your water clean for you.

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